Team boss makes worrying admission about females racing in F1

Lella Lombardi is the last female driver to have raced in F1, back in 1976.

Williams team principal James Vowles has admitted that a woman competing in Formula 1 again is “years away”, due to issues which have gone on for too long.

It’s been 37 years since Lella Lombardi competed at the pinnacle of motorsport, with her having been the most recent female driver to have raced in F1.

Until recently, very little has been done to try and get a woman back into the sport, with Susie Wolff’s Free Practice 1 appearance at the 2014 British Grand Prix having been the last time a female completed an official F1 session.

Formula 1 has finally realised that enough wasn’t being done to get a woman into the sport; however, the biggest question is what took the sport so long to realise this?

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W-Series tried to provide a platform for female drivers to demonstrate their talents to the world, only for the championship to hit financial difficulties.

It has elevated the careers of some of its competitors though, most notably, Jamie Chadwick.

Chadwick won W-Series for three consecutive seasons, before switching to the United States to compete in IndyNXT.

The Williams development driver is certainly an incredibly talented driver; however, it appears that her career is now being pointed in the direction of IndyCar.

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To get more female drivers into the F1 junior categories, the sport has created F1 Academy this year.

It’s a championship for young female drivers, with all the teams involved having sides in F2 and F3.

Whilst the series has some significant teething problems, it’s at least a sign that F1 are trying to get a female driver into F1.

Given how long it’s taken for things to get to where they are now, Vowles is aware that a female isn’t going to be seen driving in F1 for a while just yet, with the Williams boss noting that the “environment” needs to be changed starting at a grassroots level.

“Jamie was the most successful driver in W-Series, no question about it. We had discussions with her and she’s now doing a career pathway in IndyCar. That’s sensible to put focus on for the time being,” he told Sky Sports’ F1 podcast.

“Diverging and putting her back into an F1 pathway doesn’t make sense, she’s on one now that can lead to great success and she’s doing well.

“Within F1 itself, I think F1 Academy will be another strong direction. The car positioning is good and Susie Wolff understands what it takes and is one of the few women who have driven an F1 car and a complete understanding of how to get there.

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“But really we are years away before we have the right success. Part of that is the investment wasn’t done at the right level or at the right age group.

“You have to go all the way back to karting and create an environment where we breed champions, in the same way that it has been for many of the champions on the grid today. That will take time.

“The difference I’m seeing now is there is definite change, and it will happen as a result of the right environment being around.”